Thursday, October 30, 2008

2008 Chosunilbo Chuncheon Marathon

At The ChunCheon Marathon Start Line

Race Pack collection was a breeze. By just entering our surnames into the computer, the Organizer was quickly able to retrieve our full names and pre-packed race kit. In there was the bib no., ChampionChip and a unique ASICS sleeveless running sports jacket. Saw many of the local running groups collecting their race packs too....and they mostly look like very good distance runners.

It was a bright and sunny morning. We put on our long tops, with another running singlet, and track top to meet up with DO, Half-Timer at the lobby. Ripley, Vincent and another friend went separately to the race site at ChunCheon Stadium. We were surprised to see the blazing sun, and the weather getting warmer. I decided to don just my short sleeve FatBird red top with 2XU long tights. Bev was snug in her pink Nike long-sleeve tops, with a runaholic singlet, and a Nike ¾ tights.

Getting warmed up at the start

Baggage deposit was a cinch, and the helpers were very friendly. We all gathered around the warmer at the information counter, and there we met Woodstock, Ripley and Vincent. We could see the runners gathering at their respective pens based on their marathon PB timings, and the Pace Groups were all decked out in colourful balloons designating 3hr-5hr groupings, with 10min intervals. It was impressive to see the 3hr Pace, these guys must be running an easy sub-3hr marathon to be able to Pace comfortably in that grouping.

Vincent and I @ Start

DO and I went to Pen ‘D’ for runners in the 3:42-3:53 grouping. All the runners were gathered round the track of the stadium. After some exercises, the individual Pens were flagged off 1 group at a time. By the time my Pen went to the starting mat, 5min had elapsed from the gun time. Beverly was all excited as the cut-off time for this marathon is 5hrs...those who do not make the cut will be hauled up the bus...*sweat*. I started my Garmin 405 with the timing and Avg Pace on...I was hoping to reach a 5:10min pace for a 3:40hr timing if possible. Most of the runners had their gloves on, including me.

The first 5km was a gradual up-slope, but I was more affected by the chilly winds. My throat was dry, as I trotted along at 5:20min pace to get warmed up. I could see the 3:40hr pace group in the horizon, and I got into a steady pace to enjoy the scenery. After getting warmed up, I felt better, and decided to pick up the pace. The scenery got better as we run around the lake and dam area. It was a sea of people throughout the whole run, and all looked very ‘seasoned’. I noticed there were few ladies; maybe because of the ‘only full-marathon distance’ offered, and the cut-off of 5hrs?

I enjoyed the scenery as I recalled various parts of the course where the ‘Marathon Boy’ went through. It was really scenic, and the weather was cool in spite of the blazing sun. However, parts where there were no sun were chilly. The gloves I had on were really useful. The SpeedCage I had on were taking in the impact of the hard and cambered rolling hills as they meandered around the lake. Feeling quite good, I went into a 5min/km average pace after the 15km mark, and subsequently ran ahead of the 3:40hr pacers. Around the 20km mark, I finally spotted DO....he went into a blistering first half, and was slowing a little due to the impact of the hard ground on his knees. I continued on my 5min pace as I ventured towards 3rd quarter of the marathon. As it was noon, the sun was really beating down on us. The local Korean runners were feeling the heat, and it did not help that the water points were 5km apart.

At 28km, my left sole felt a tingling sensation, and then my right sole. It was the pounding on those hard flooring. I tried to focus on the beautiful scenery at hand, but my feet were hurting. By 30km, I could feel blisters forming in both my soles...ouch! A quick check on my 405 showed that I had slowed to an average 5:02min/km pace. Knowing that it would be difficult to go for a 3:30hr finish (my Boston Qualifying time), I decided not to push too hard for fear of getting cramps or even having my soles ‘burn up’...yikes! The parts where we ran into the farmland and countryside were COLD, with rather high-speed chilly winds...some runners were bending their heads down and facing the challenge head-on. I decided that I had better not stop there to walk or stretch, since the cold winds will ‘kill’ me.

By 35km, I could feel the burning sensation on the soles of my feet. I slowed down the pace in order that they can take a break from the pounding, if at all possible. With 7km to go, my average pace was down to 5:04min/km. Many of the runners were getting cramps and medical attention; others were walking and braving the heat and the exhaust from the cars along the highway. The earlier 30km where the entire roads were closed was sorely missed then. I decided to take it a km at a time from the 37km mark. I know that I will do a sub 3:40hr, but not so sure if I could push for a 3:35hr finish. Nevertheless, I pushed on....the experience is that my cardio was still ok, but my feet was the factor dragging me back. With the blisters forming, I could only run more gingerly.

Then it was 2km...a lot of supporters lined the streets offering drinks, support, and song & dance to cheer the runners. I could still manage a friendly wave back to acknowledge them for their kind support. I picked up speed for the final 1.2km. As we ran into the stadium, the crowd was a feeling like we were returning from an Olympics Marathon...hehe. I did the final lap round the stadium track to finish with my arms held up high for a 3:36hr Garmin time finish. The clock read 3:41hr as I ran through to rousing cheers of the crowd, photographers snapping finishing photos, and mini-skirt gals handing out finisher medals. It was a nice experience, one which I will cherish for some time to come.

I immediately went for 3 cups of Pocari Sweat, and collected my goodie bag after returning the ChampionChip. Since none of my running kakis were back yet, I went around looking for the medical tent for treatment of my blisters, but to no avail. Before I could pursue further, I was asked by a screaming man to help him with his cramps. I spent a good 10min tending to the poor guy, before the medical personnel came. DO came along too, and we proceeded to the finishing gantry to wait for the rest to finish.

We waited in anticipation and soon saw our gang finishing....Vincent in about 4:15hr; Beverly made the cut with a very good time of 4:28hr; Woodstock finished in 4:31hr; Half-Timer did 4:47hr and Ripley completed in 4:59hr. All did well to complete within cut-off time, and Beverly was especially pleased with her run. My Garmin 405 recorded a total distance of 42.29km...hmm, quite an accurate course, factoring in the slightly longer distance around the cambered roads I took.

As we left, the place was still abuzz with activity of many vendors hawking their sports wares, the sponsors giving product demonstrations. There were still runners completing their runs, although we were not sure if they would be given medals after the cut-off. As we took our long walk to the taxi stand, we exchanged stories and experiences of the challenging but scenic race route, the good organization of the whole event, the great km distance markers, the heavy grunting of the Korean runners, the interviews of runners conducted while they were on the run, and the lots of goodies that were on sale at the race site. It will be one good marathon experience, and I would surely recommend it to runners who would want to do a Asian Marathon to try the ChunCheon Marathon.

Distance: 42.195km__Time: 3hr36min__Pace: 5:07min/km

Offcial Results HERE (Bib 4096)

Photo SlideShow HERE

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At 10:32 AM, Blogger Sputnik-Iai said...

Brilliant run dude ... hope i can do a 4hr 30mins for Tokyo (if i am selected ... still wanting for the results of the ballot) ... you are the inspiration for alot of us who thought we can't do it ... its all in the mind ... and your mind is super strong ...

have a good post-marathon rest ..
see you back in the small island


Alex "The Shiny Dome"

At 11:17 PM, Blogger roentgen said...

Congratulations DR on your fantastic and inspiring run!!This is an amazing timing...


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